Mission Impossible: A Missionary Family’s Escape From Lockdown

Missionaries help a woman return to her family when the government institutes a lockdown overnight.

From Message magazine issue "Sent: Introducing Our Newest Missionaries"

In missions, demonstrating Christlike love might take the form of providing healthcare to the sick, sharing the good news with the hurting, or even helping an unbelieving friend cross a government border during a COVID-19 lockdown.

An ABWE family found themselves in that exact scenario. During the night, the country declared that its capital would be closing its borders in the morning. The new edict was announced on top of an existing curfew which made it illegal to leave one’s home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“Anyone caught outside their homes during curfew could be beaten, fined, or imprisoned by the police,” said the missionary.

The problem? Their family helper Vanna* was stuck. The Hindu woman lived outside city limits in a local province but stayed with the missionary family during the week. The looming lockdown would separate her from her husband, two children, and blind mother.

The family devised an escape plan. They would meet Vanna’s husband Devi* at the border the next day. He held a government position and could negotiate his way across if necessary.

The next morning, the missionary and Vanna drove to the border crossing. Vanna convinced the missionary to bring her youngest son to win sympathy from the police. Devi was waiting on the other side when they arrived. He convinced the police to let him drive through to pick up his wife. The tense situation worsened when a misunderstanding between Devi and the police prevented him and Vanna from crossing back over to get home.

Time was running out as the couple sped off in search of a different crossing point that was still open. Within minutes, a police caravan flew past the missionary down the same road Devi and Vanna had just taken.

If the police had caught up to Vanna and Devi, they could have potentially been separated from their children for seven weeks.

“I called Vanna to let her know the police were close behind them and that they needed to drive faster,” recalled the missionary. “It was like out of a movie!”

By God’s grace, with less than a minute to spare, they made it safely. Seconds after Vanna and her husband crossed the border, police barricaded the road.

*Names changed for security reasons

Loren Skinker

Loren Skinker served as communications specialist with ABWE and managing editor for Message Magazine. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communications and English.